WASHINGTON-The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee passed a favorable report last week concerning the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (S.1136) onto the full Senate for consideration. S. 1136, which has no matching bill in the House, would revise certain provisions regarding protections and rights afforded to servicemembers while on active-duty. The bill, sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), aims to update the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940. It would protect servicemembers against default judgments including a 90-day stay of proceedings regarding any tax, fine, penalty, insurance premium or other civil obligation. The bill also prohibits eviction of a servicemember or their dependents during active military service provided the rent is less than $1,950 (currently the law allows up to $1,200) or the monthly basic allowance to which the member is entitled, except by court order. Active military service must also be given consideration in a contract to purchase or lease real or personal property, including vehicles, entered into prior to service. It also prevents foreclosure on a lien during service or for 90 days after. Other provisions to in S. 1136 include: * Increasing the total life insurance provided under the Act to the greater of $250,000, or an amount equal to the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance maximum limit. * Allowing findings of fact and conclusions of law made by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in administering the life insurance provisions of the Act to be reviewed by the Board of Veterans Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which is currently not permissible * Setting forth provisions to protect a servicemember’s assets not held in connection with an obligation or liability of a trade or business of that servicemember during his or her military service and requiring higher learning institutions to allow a servicemember to return and complete classes following military service. Under the bill, servicemembers have the right to waive any of these rights and protections with a written agreement. -

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